Surrealism and the Roaring Twenties


Surrealism arose from Dadaist activities during the war. Centered in Paris, it quickly became a cultural movement, rather than only artistic. Perhaps the most influential of its forefathers, Andre Breton stressed the importance of Surrealism as a revolutionary movement. Believing that their works expressed the philosophy behind the period in which psychoanalysis was born, elements of surprise, juxtapositions, and importance of the dream-like worlds and the notion of the subconscious dominated. In 1924, Breton published his Surrealist Manifesto and defined the thoughts of the time as pure psychic automatism. Next to Breton, the Spanish self-proclaimed Genius Salvador Dali, known for some of the most thought-provoking and often erotic images, is now revered as one of the crucial surrealist artists of the group.

The maturation of Salvador Dali through the twenties:

Today, Surrealism photography is considered one of the important trends of the medium while questions concerning the lowbrow art and pop surrealism would lead to a better understanding of the original Surrealism as well.

For many, the period of the 1920s art is seen as the first modern decade responsible for the creation of concepts that the world follows even today. As an endlessly fascinating time, artists pushed for the new and the revolutionary which helped create the art as we know it.

Dadaism and the Roaring Twenties


For 100 years Dadaism has been praised because of its influence and importance as one of the most important avant-garde movements.
Beginning in Zurich during World War I, it quickly became an international phenomenon spreading to various cities in Europe and America. Opposing the cultural and intellectual conformity in art, usually displaying political affinities with the radical left, dada artists gathered and engaged in activities such as public gatherings, demonstrations, and publication of art and literary journals.

In regards to the visual art, the new concept praising the idea above the subject was born. Marcel Duchamp is the father figure of the movement and his experimental nature brought forward new ideas such as readymades. Influential for the original understanding towards sculpture production, idea of the readymades also influenced assemblage, found object pieces, and to an extent junk art and recycled art as well. Praising machines, technology and Cubist elements were features evident in the dada collage pieces and other innovative artworks this 1920s art period left behind.

Expressionism & The Roaring Twenties

Edvard Munch – The Scream

As a modernist movement, Expressionism originated in Germany during the 1920s art period. Initially as a style in both poetry and painting, it emphasized the presentation of the world, both external and internal, solely through a subjective perspective. This emotionally charged period meant a boost for the artistic cinema, marked by the 1920. film masterpiece by Robert Wiene, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”. Radically distorting its images for the emotional effect, passions and moods were more important than the physical reality. Partly as a response to the growing social anxiety and the idea of the loss of spirituality, and partly as a reaction to Impressionist art, Expressionism was mostly inspired by the Symbolism movement of the late 19th-century, but also by modern currents and progress of the era. Some of its most famous painters include Edvard Munch, Wassily Kandinsky, Erich Heckel and Franz Marc. These artists introduced the new standards for art which later gave birth to Abstract Expressionism and the Neo-Expressionism art movement.

Art Deco of the Roaring Twenties

Originating in Europe, Art Deco was a dominant style in design and architecture of the 1920s. As such it quickly spread to Western Europe and North America. But, what is truly defined as the art deco period and how influential was the art deco decorative style? In the United States, New York City’s Chrysler Building typified the Art Deco style while other examples could be found in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Regarding the two-dimensional production, the art deco artists displayed an interest towards the mixture of traditional crafts with machine age imagery and materials. One of the most famous artists of the 1920s art deco period was definitely Tamara de Lempicka, with her portraits of the bourgeoisie and the progress of the era.

Characterized by rich colors, lavish ornamentation, and geometric shapes, the movement was celebrated for its pattern designs and poster art. In such examples evident is the dominant rectilinear designs even though art deco artists often drew inspiration from nature and used curved lines as well.